Outdoor Heating Systems Are Critical To The Alfresco Dining Experience

8 minute read | Heaters

The adage that it takes money to make money never held more true than investments in alfresco seating and outdoor heating systems.

A Groupon for Merchants article, called “Increasing Revenue for Your Restaurant with Outdoor Seating Ideas,” provides a detailed analysis of the benefits of additional seating. Its conclusions may prove surprising to restaurateurs who haven’t yet pulled the trigger on a deck or patio. That’s because the profitability of outdoor seating and casual gathering spaces is multifaceted and lucrative.

“If you’re trying to determine how to generate more revenue in a restaurant, outdoor seating is one of your best bets. With outdoor seating, average restaurant revenue rises by up to 30 percent. Converting an unused outdoor space to accommodate more customers increases your overall table availability and draws in customers who might be interested in a more festive dining experience,” according to Groupon.

The Groupon for Merchants piece goes on to point out that casual open-air spaces also create a natural “up-sell” to customers. While waiting for a table on a busy weekend dinner rush, patrons are pleased to enjoy a pre-meal drink or light appetizer on a restaurant’s deck or patio. In fact, regulars build that time into their experience and invite friends. These and other incentives remain in play until evenings grow too cold or until fall and winter drive people indoors.

But that 30 percent or more that businesses are generating does not necessarily have to evaporate. An outdoor heating system, using industry-leading units, can keep patrons comfortable.

Design Spaces to Accommodate a Patio Heater for Restaurants

It’s important to strategically design fresh-air dining and gathering areas for all-season usage. One of the common mistakes business owners make is to think in terms of exclusive summer use. These types of decks are typically designed with open deck railings that allow cool breezes to flow through. It’s also not uncommon for restaurants to invest in rollout awnings to insulate diners from the summer sun or rain.

Constructing solid low walls around the base of the deck or patio stabilizes the area from uneven wind gusts. Installing a fixed overhead structure involves a similar investment to an awning. However, it invites other critical uses that can add to the customer’s experience and the business’s bottom line. One of these revolves around installing outdoor heating systems that help businesses maximize their space every day.

Maximize Patio Use with Outdoor Heating Systems

One of the things that holds some restaurant owners back from selecting a patio heater for restaurants involves fuel resources. There’s a myth that commercial-grade patio heaters can only operate on natural gas. While natural gas remains a cost-effective option, leading infrared radiant heater lines can also be powered with liquid propane and electricity which are also cost-effective. In terms of a fuel source, there are essentially no obstacles to installing an individual unit or comprehensive outdoor heating systems. To better illustrate this point, consider the following five leading types of patio heaters for restaurants.

Patio Comfort

The Patio Comfort heaters are classic mushroom-head outdoor patio heater designed for flexible use. It houses a liquid propane tank in its base and generates upwards of 40,000 BTUs. A 5-gallon cylinder typically provides up to 10 hours of consistent warmth within its throw radius. This patio heater line offers four stylish finishes to enhance the décor that includes Stainless Steel, Antique Bronze, Jet/Silver, and Vintage Series. This self-contained model can be strategically placed to accommodate changing table and chair arrangements.

For business owners who already have natural gas to run their kitchens and indoor heating system, the Patio Comfort line offers a fixed-in-place option. The natural gas model delivers the same iconic mushroom-style aesthetic patrons look for when considering a place for outdoor dining and happy hour drinks.

Sunglo Patio Heaters

The Sunglo heaters are a natural evolution of the classic mushroom heater. Available in black or stainless steel, they can also hold a portable propane tank in the base. Other models come with a strong pole that is footed into the ground for permanent natural gas usage.

But the A244 Sunglo heater takes it to the next level, stylistically. Generating upwards of 50,000 BTUs, this model can be hung from a ceiling, rafter, or overarching infrastructure. Using natural gas, the A244 is a decorative addition that resembles hanging lanterns.

Sunpak Patio Heaters

This box-style heater line generates 25,000 to 34,000 BTUs, depending on the model. It can be chosen with a black or stainless steel finish and mounted on ceilings, walls, or a sturdy post. Because it is fixed in place, Sunpak heaters come in natural gas or liquid propane models.

When smartly positioned, these box heaters cover 100 to 144 square feet of radiant heat. They can be installed with wall controls that include shutoff timers and some models have remote controls.

Sunstar Patio Heaters

Another box-style model, the Sunstar patio heater is designed for areas prone to inclement weather. They are well-suited for decks and patios along marinas that experience ocean winds and salt water. The Sunstar models are also excellent at preventing dust and airborne grit from negatively impacting the infrared heating elements.

This is accomplished through the use of high-temperature tinted glass zinc-laced materials and black silicone powder-coated paint in the SGL model. Depending on the unit, a Sunstar patio heater for restaurants generates 24,000 to 35,000 BTUs. Sunstar has natural gas and liquid propane models available.

Infratech Electric Box Heaters

Too many restaurant owners operate under the assumption that top-tier patio heaters don’t run on electricity. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Infratech patio heater line was designed for commercial and residential settings that do not necessarily have access to natural gas, and liquid propane is inconvenient. The Infratech infrared heaters only require a professionally installed, dedicated source, and they can be installed on ceilings, walls, or on strategically placed posts.

Infratech models generate 24,000 to 35,000 BTUs, using 2,000-6,000 watts. They are available in aesthetically pleasing stainless steel, black, and a sleek finish in some models. The Infratech Motif collection also has four stylish options for its front plates that include Contemporary, Craftsman, Mediterranean, and Traditional.

Invest In A Patio Heater for Restaurants

As the foodies at Groupon point out, alfresco dining and drinks spaces improve restaurant profits by upwards of 30 percent. It would be counterproductive to invest in a deck or patio, tables, and chairs, and then shut it down when the temperature dips. A business owner would effectively be cutting revenue and failing to get the anticipated patio return on investment.

Outdoor heating systems improve customer experience and profits while serving as a viable capital expense. Savvy entrepreneurs understand outdoor patio heaters are pass-through expenditures that drive profits.

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